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Former fire chief sentenced to probation

May 12, 2019

KINGMAN — A former fire chief convicted of conflict of interest entered Friday’s sentencing hearing with the threat of jail hanging over his head.

Wayne Eder, 55, and his throng of supporters left the Mohave County courthouse jubilant that a local judge imposed the most lenient sentence possible, boosting his hope of returning to the fire service industry to continue his career.

Involved attorneys said they thought Eder would be placed on probation after the former Northern Arizona Consolidated Fire District chief was convicted on a charge of conflict of interest. Prosecutor James Schoppmann and defense attorney Lee Novak also said it would be proper to leave the felony conviction undesignated, giving Eder a chance to earn a misdemeanor designation upon completion of probation.

Mohave County Superior Court Judge Rick Lambert designated the offense a misdemeanor during the hearing and ordered no jail time. He placed Eder on unsupervised probation and imposed a $150 fine.

Eder’s probation lasted about 15 minutes because he paid the fine, which ended his probation before he left the courthouse.

Novak said Eder was elated with the outcome.

The conviction involved Eder having a shop owned by former NACFD governing board member Victor Riccardi try to fix a district fire truck in April of 2017. This occurred while Eder was serving as interim chief with a pending application for promotion to chief.

Lambert began his remarks by speaking of visiting his firefighter uncle at a fire station in Sacramento when he was 4 years old in 1965. He spent more than five minutes speaking of “how cool” it was to see the crews don their gear and rush out of the station on a fire call.

Lambert eventually said that Eder was the victim of turbulent politics within the NACFD, where he twice served as chief.

“I hate getting dragged into this because of some of the politics,” Lambert said.

Lambert also said that Eder was a victim of selective prosecution, detailing other instances that did not lead to investigation or charges.

“If we’re going to prosecute conflict of interest, then we should prosecute all conflict of interest,” he said.

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